Malaga and Celta Vigo are locking horns in their opening match in 2016 eager to claim a morale-boosting New Year’s triumph. The hosts are looking for their third win in a row, while Celta will be hoping to get back to winning ways following their loss to Athletic Bilbao last time out.
Malaga on the rise
Los Boquerones have notched a hat-trick of La Liga wins and are without a domestic loos in their last five matches. They did, however, lose both legs of their Copa del Rey match-up with Mirandes which allows them to focus strictly on their La Liga campaign. The latest positive run has seen them rise to 11th in the standings and escape the relegation zone they have been hovering above for much of the season. Javi Gracia’s men have regained their self-confidence and will be highly motivated as they prepare to host Celta Vigo. The most recent positive stretch has mostly been down to Malaga’s top scorer Charles, who will be facing his old club on Saturday. Last summer’s signing from Celta Vigo, the 31-year-old Brazilian has scored six goals in his 16 appearances for the club this term and will be expected to lead the pack in the first match of 2016. Malaga have won only three home games so far in the season and the encounter with Celta Vigo will be a great opportunity to boost the record and mark the beginning of a new year in great spirit.
Flavio Ferreira, Miguel Torres and Juan Carlos are the three confirmed absentees, while there Carlos Kameni and Marcos Angeleri are the two injury doubts due to their knocks. Much-improved Malaga are unlikely to make any unnecessary changes to the line-up.
Dreaming of Europe
Celta Vigo have ended the year of 2015 with their first defeat in last seven matches in all competitions. Os Celticos have succumbed to a minimal loss to Athletic Bilbao, who claimed the maximum three points thanks to a goal from Raul Garcia. Run of four matches unbeaten coming to an end has seen Eduardo Berrizzo’s charges consequently losing their UEFA Champion League place, which has been overtaken by Villarreal who emerged victorious from the Derbi de la Comunitat against Gary Neville’s Valencia. Celta Vigo are now occupying the fifth place in the standings with 31 points to the name and will be eager to get back to winning ways and keep the European dream alive. As always, the biggest threat for the hosts and biggest hope for the visitors was expected to be the forward-duo Iago Aspas and Nolito, who have scored eight goals apiece, more than a half goals from Celta Vigo so far in the season. However, Nolito is injured for the affair. It is important to mention that Celta Vigo are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 La Liga matches on the road, and there is no doubt that Berizzo’s side will be looking to keep it that way past Saturday.
Previously mentioned Nolito is forced to sit out through injury and Theo Bongonda should get a continued run on the left. Fontas is also unavailable, while Augusto Fernandez’s fitness is in doubt. Pablo Hernandez should be fit to start, together with Nemanja Radoja.
Celta Vigo are making a trip to Malaga without one of their best players this season, but are still considered favourites to claim the win. The hosts are buoyed by their most recent run and there is little separating two sides for what will surely be a close-knit competition.
Top pick: Draw 3.30 (7/5) @Bet365
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score – Yes 1.91 (10/11) @WilliamHill
Alternative pick 2: Under 2.5 goals 1.62 (8/13) @Coral